Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 2:20 p.m. on Nov. 16 to include information about a third potential Deckers site, in Goleta.
As Ugg boot company Deckers Outdoor Corp. strides toward a new South Coast headquarters, sites in Carpinteria, Goleta and at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport have surfaced as potentially perfect fits.
Deckers isn’t talking about its specific plans, but commercial real estate insiders told the Business Times that the company is close to a deal to build at the Lagunitas property in Carpinteria. A property at the Santa Barbara airport, near Deckers’ current Goleta location, is also in the running, as is space in the Cabrillo Business Park on Hollister Avenue in Goleta.
Deckers announced in January that it plans to move its headquarters to a custom-built building sometime in 2012. Although CEO Angel Martinez wouldn’t confirm exactly where the shoemaker plans to set up shop, he told the Business Times in a Nov. 11 interview that the firm’s new digs would be officially announced in about a month.
“We’re staying in the greater Santa Barbara area, that’s for sure,” he said.
Several people with knowledge of leasing plans at the 25-acre mixed-use Lagunitas project in Carpinteria told the Business Times that Lagunitas is at the top of Deckers’ list. Deckers spokeswoman Errin Cecil-Smith refused to comment on whether the company is considering the property.
The city of Santa Barbara is also in negotiations with Deckers on its 6100 Hollister Ave. location at the airport — a spot big-box retailer Target pursued unsuccessfully. The city and a real estate broker representing Deckers are scheduled to discuss price and terms of a potential deal in a closed City Council session on Nov. 16, according to a City Council agenda.
One source close to the Cabrillo Business Park said Deckers has also shown interest in a portion of that property. Another broker familiar with the South Coast market said Deckers appears to be in negotiations on several sites, and that the Lagunitas decision was not finalized. But, he said, “It’s on the short list.”
Santa Barbara-based developer Investec recently sold the residential portion of the Lagunitas project for $10 million, saying it wants to focus its attention on the 13-acre, fully entitled commercial portion.
If it were to go through, the deal would make Carpinteria home to the second-largest publicly traded company in the Tri-Counties. The city, which suffers from a 12.1 percent industrial vacancy rate — compared to 1.8 percent in Santa Barbara and 2.7 percent in Goleta — has also recently attracted big-name firms such as online software learning company lynda.com. The company moved its headquarters from Ventura to more than 117,000 square feet of space in Carpinteria earlier this year.
Deckers, a $697-million asset company, operates debt-free and with $250.5 million in free cash and cash equivalents as of the end of its third quarter. It saw third-quarter earnings jump 24.4 percent on strong sales of its signature Ugg brand boots.
Martinez told the Business Times the company is on track to exceed a billion dollars in total annual revenue before 2012 and that it’s still on the hunt for possible acquisitions.
But the CEO was also adamant that despite the company’s commitment to expanding on the South Coast, he’s not happy about the slow-growth policies of the region.
“The only benefit of doing business here has been the weather,” he said. Expensive real estate and growth restrictions have made doing business in the greater Santa Barbara area tough, he said.
“We’re committed to the Santa Barbara area. We want to stay here and grow here and create jobs here. … But it’s a commitment to stay here. We need a commitment from local government,” Martinez said. “The last thing we need is three years of hoop-jumping to be able to put a shovel in the ground.”